Monday, March 29, 2010

Accreditation update

*NEW UPDATE as of 4/2/10: A temporary license has been issued! Hopefully we'll see movement soon!!!

Update as of 3/29------
No- the accreditation has not gone through yet. There is talk of a temporary license being issued in the meantime so that referrals can occur and other things can progress... :) Word also has it that there are a few babies ready to be referred! So, I'm praising God that movement is coming and little people will be with their forever families soon!

Thanks for praying, and keep it up! We're hopeful that the process will be complete soon and that several families will get 'the call'! :)

I've been thinking about Rom 8:25 lately regarding the adoption/our baby girl: '...if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.' Yes, Lord. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beginning to sew...

Well, I'm beginning a new venture that will hopefully be in full swing in the next few months. I'm going to make some things out of the plethora of beautiful Indian fabrics I have and sell them as a fundraiser for the adoption... . Some were bought new in India in bazaars, others at Fab India, and others at the used saree bazaar in Dehradun (It's like going to goodwill/ARC except it's yards and yards of beautiful Indian fabrics- with only minor defects that you can cut around when sewing!) Once I get some things finished I'll post pictures and hopefully draw some interest from parents who have adopted or will adopt Indian kiddos (or those of you out there who just want to buy something cute to support our adoption). :) Some of the fabrics look blatantly Indian, others are not obviously Indian- (including some cream colored organic cotton not pictured). And I actually have some Thai Silk and some brocades from Hong Kong that I could use if some of you have friends adopting from Thailand or China...
Here are some ideas I'm throwing around in my head... I'm going to break out the sewing machine after all the little people around here get healthy (and aren't as clingy)!
  • Child-size cooking/craft aprons

  • Tooth fairy pillows

  • Doll sized punjabi suits/kurtas (sarees are WAY too difficult to undertake at this point)

  • wall hangings/small quilts

  • rag dolls (like a pillowcase or handkerchief doll)

  • Christmas stockings

  • Dress Up Clothes
Any other suggestions out there of things I could make? I'm just a mama with a sewing machine though- so don't ask for replicas of the taj mahal out of fabric or anything... :) Here is a blanket I did last year for a friend- but that one is not from the fun Indian fabrics... :) Also, one of my dilemmas is that some of the fabric is really flowy/sheer and will 1) be a bit more difficult to sew/hem and 2) need to be backed with another fabric for strength.

So, comment away on what would be more desirable, or what I should attempt to make, and I'll get to experimenting and see what comes of it! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are you looking for the way of escape?

Our church Lenten messages have been really great at bringing me to a place of repentance. (If you want to hear/watch the mini-messages click here. The messages are called 'The Call' and labeled 1-5.) Yesterday we watched #4 and one part of the message that stood out to me was about 1 Cor 10:13- 'No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.'

What stuck with me was what he said about finding freedom from temptation. He asked if we were actively LOOKING FOR the way of escape that God provides in every temptation.

It calls to mind something that my dad taught me about defensive driving when I was 16. He taught me to always be mindful of the way of escape- even when the road was not difficult and the people around me were driving normally. That way- when the terrain suddenly changes or the car in front of you gets a sudden flat- you're prepared and have a 'way of escape' in mind, so that you avoid a crash.

My temptation in the weariness of life (We had an ER visit from 11-3 last night- so I'm definitely needing this today!) is to put the kids to bed and turn the TV on for about 3 hours, then go to bed just as exhausted as I started the evening... But tonight, my way of escape is going to His word, re-reading His promises and finding rest and peace in the Spirit of God that is alive and well; comforting, strengthening, and building us up in our faith. Let them be your way of escape too:

Isaiah 40:31 ESV
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 37:7 ESV
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stepping back and seeing the pattern.

I'm looking back over the 6 months or so and I'm noticing a pattern. Over and over again I am finding myself stunned, shocked, thrown off kilter, perturbed, etc... because of new information popping up that I 'should' have known about, but for some reason didn't.

Here's an example or two:
  • Every parent from my kindergartner's class (except me) receiving weekly emails from the teacher and me feeling really out of touch (And A getting really sad every time I didn't remember something that I didn't know about yet).
  • I did a secret shop, performed it to the letter, then had an editor contact me to tell me that I had done it wrong and that the instructions stated blah, blah, blah... when in fact, my instructions didn't say that. To which she replies "Well, they used to. Sorry, we're not going to pay you for that job." What?! (And, I did request to speak to the manager about the secret shop job, AND got paid, btw...)
What I felt at the core was this: I cannot be held responsible for something I don't know. AND- it's not fair.

Each situation was not life-changing or too big to deal with- but yet each situation left me with a choice:
1. Whine and complain, then blame others who dropped the ball.
2. Pick up whatever pieces were left, dust them off and attempt to put them back together with grace.

Initially I thought it was just some part of my crazy love for organization or structure that was making me have a problem with it- but then on Wednesday it hit me. These two examples were only a fraction of the events like this that have happened to me lately. It's happening OVER and OVER and OVER again (Weird, I know).

Thankfully, I was able to sit and think about it while reflecting with a friend the other day and I saw the pattern... The HUGE pattern. Not only had it been happening over and over again- but I realized that I progressively handled the situations with more and more grace/peace. Let's just say that the secret shop job, I landed on door #1 (blood boiling, keep your tone-down, Sarah..., thank God this is over the phone so they can't see how angry you look, etc.). Others, I was able to go with door #2... :)

And, after seeing such a grand pattern: I finally submitted my heart to God over it. I told him that I recognized that it was a lesson He was attempting to teach me- and that I was failing in big and small ways repeatedly. I surrendered the blame, anger, unfairness, etc. and asked Him for help the next time around. I can't help but think that I have a whopper coming around the corner at me though. Lord, let me be ready and let me choose door #2.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Home of the Dying

I had about an hour last night where I lay awake in my bed, unable to fall asleep after checking A's blood sugar at 2:00 AM, then staying up long enough to make sure it went up to a good level before I went back to bed. All I could think about were the pictures of the Home of the Dying that I had looked through earlier in the day. So, I'll reflect a bit with you all- and this one is pretty far off from the funny/humiliating experience I posted about yesterday. Just be warned that this is pretty raw and a bit gritty. If you want rainbows and sunshine- this isn't the day to read my blog. This is one of those that is based on the thought that the difficult experiences in life are often the ones that shape you most:
During 2 months spent in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1998, I toured Titagar on my 22nd birthday (a Missionaries of Charity run leper colony outside of Calcutta) and spent a series of days working in one of Mother Teresa's homes, The Home of the Destitute and Dying (Nirmal Hriday- meaning Pure Heart).
The home is an old, abandoned temple. Mother Teresa sought permission in the 1950's to use it as a hospice type facility for the poor. It practically shares a wall with Kali Temple (Kali is the Hindu goddess of death). How ironic, that a home to rescue the dying would be smack next to the temple celebrating and worshipping the goddess of death. This photo is of the roof of the home of the dying with linens drying in the sun, with the top of Kali temple just behind it.The building is divided into several large rooms. The men and women are in separate areas, for purposes of dignity and privacy. Male volunteers help the men, female volunteers help the women. Cots line the walls. These beds have vinyl covered foam mattresses on them (which had to be a wonderful comfort to the aching bodies of those that lay in them, considering that many of these people had been sleeping on the streets). Some of the people here regain strength and health and are able to go home, or move on. Others die, but die with whatever dignity and peace can be offered, and are surrounded with love as they pass.

This photo is taken from wikipedia of the men's area. The rest of the pics are a bit grainy, but are my own.

It is a home where the destitute are brought. Many here were found dying on the streets. Some are in late stages of diseases and are brought by family that can do nothing to help them. Others are merely too poor, low caste, or too disabled to receive medical care or feed themselves. This home made clear to me the heart of Mother Teresa, and the Missionaries of Charity. There is nothing boastful about this place. Nothing bold or blatantly evangelical. It is love, in one of it's purest and rarest forms; servanthood. Love for the unlovable, hurting, diseased, and cast out. And it is love that looks past caste or religion, in a nation that has a hard time looking past those divisions.
My first impression of the ladies I was helping, was that they must have looked similar to what those who survived the holocaust looked like. The second observation was that no matter how much I wanted to hear their stories, I didn't speak their language.
The sisters and volunteers that work here daily are amazingly selfless, tireless, and focused. They care for those they serve by preparing, and often hand-feeding them hot meals, washing linens/clothing daily, hand-bathing and helping the men and women use the restroom, dosing medications, administering physical therapy (so many of the women I helped had such atrophied muscles that it was painful for them to attempt to straighten their limbs). They know the men and women by name, and treat them with such respect, attention and care.

I don't remember exactly how many days we worked there. Maybe a week. But so many things struck me to the core. As you can see from the two pictures here of us holding the women, they would hold you back. Tightly. How often are they actually 'held' and not just 'lifted' to go to the shower or bathroom? One of the girls on our team actually got Tuberculosis on this trip. That's how real the death/disease is in this place.
I would go through those days, mostly subsisting on the mental level necessary to help out. I was completely in shock, having come from my wealthy, suburban, clean, and medical-care-abundant, American life, expecting to 'give my heart out to the poor.' I think that's why they have volunteers rotate duties/jobs at these homes. They rotate you through so that you're doing various tasks all day long (laundry, cooking, dispensing medication, showers, hand feeding some of them, bathroom assistance, etc.) - but I think it's so that you don't melt down from the overwhelming need that is so constant. There is a forced tea break as well- and I think that break has very little to do with nourishment for the volunteers... As I got back to our hostel each night, I would break down and just weep while listening to worship music in an attempt to be re-filled so that I could find the strength to do it again another day.
Passages in the Bible about helping the poor, helping the least of these, etc. took on such a depth of meaning to me that I had not experienced before. Thinking of these women, bruised and bleeding, in need of not only physical help, but someone to hold them in the absence of their family or friends. I went into it imagining that I could be a light, and pray over these women. I know I did those things- but it seemed so paltry in comparison to the raw needs they had (food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and rest). At one point, one of the longer term residents who was in a recovery stage- and one of the only ones who spoke English, shouted across the room at me "Use Force, Sister" as I was attempting to gently help a woman stretch her legs.
When I got home from India, I was asked to speak to the youth at The Rock in Bartlesville, OK. I don't remember what I said that day- but I was a MESS. I was still in some stage of shock, and still unable to fully make sense of the dichotomy...

So many things stand out in my memory, even 12 years later. If I close my eyes, I can still smell and feel the lye soap on my red, raw hands. I can hear the sounds of clanging gongs and goats being sacrificed in the temple nextdoor, and a loud funeral procession going through the streets outside. I can feel the heat on my hands of a glass of steaming HOT tea, served in a cup with no handle. I remember the thoughts I had as I washed my outfit every night at our hostel, wondering what germs/diseases I had present on my body and in my clothing. And the prayers I prayed each night that none of the ladies that I was helping that day would die while I slept...

Somehow, in some amazing way that only God could have orchestrated, I came home knowing that a piece of me had stayed in India, and a piece of India had remained in me. I knew that someday I would return. Now, years later, I look back. I lived there for a year, and am in the process of bringing a little Indian girl home to be part of our family. India will forever be a part of me!
Other things:
This beautiful prayer was prayed by the Pope on his visit there in 1986. Here also, is an amazing photo website, that you really MUST see, with many more images that reveal the beauty and the pain of this place. And this article showcases the work of the Missionaries of Charity, with info about a number of their homes/projects in Calcutta.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Pray for accreditation:

Pray for the ACA's license to be renewed by CARA. :) Lots of letters/abbreviations, but that's the prayer that needs to be prayed. :) No Dillon/India referrals have taken place in more than a month because this renewal process isn't complete yet. So- for all of you friends/bloggers out there- take it to the Lord for all of us who are waiting. :)

And- Nancy asked for some stories from days in India... I thought of a few- but this one was particularly funny that I ran across in old journals:
Humorous moment from the Bilaspur project trip:
As we all got up to join Steve in singing a few songs in the Sunday service- Sarah gets up from her front row seat (where we all sat down when we arrived at the service before the rest of the congregation arrived) and realized that she was sitting on the men's side of the church- AND that all of the women (sitting on their appropriate side...) had their heads covered! AHH!
:-) I apologized to the pastor afterward- but it still makes for quite an interesting experience... (I think it was better than on a previous trip to India when all the girls on my team showed up to church wearing men's Indian Punjabi suits instead of women's...- ask me later for the story).

I'll try to look up other more interesting and culturally revealing stories from my old journals- but this one was a funny glimpse back into this small town church experience. :)

On a more somber note, I came across some pictures of my time spent working in Mother Teresa's Home of the Dying. That was surely one of the most humbling acts of service I've ever experienced. I'll see if I can scan them and put some up here...